Tier 2 dining?
The latest COVID measures – as of the second week of October 2020 – in Central London affect hospitality yet again with more strict, restrictive and complicated measures. Right now, the only way to meet a friend (or 5, maximum) and enjoy a meal is to sit outdoor. And we all kow how pleasant it can get to sit outdoor in mid october. But even for someone who feels the cold like me, external temperature still shouldn’t be a deterrent to a good meal at this time in history.
While the situation is changing constantly, here’s a list (in no particular order) of some of my favourite places with an outdoor dining area.
Right by the ugly American Embassy near Vauxhall is Darby’s. I have been here a couple of times and always really enjoyed it. While the interior is pretty stunning, right now is their outdoor seating area that makes this a good option if you ‘re meeting a friend or two. They have a bakery (which did take away during the main lockdown) as well as an oyster bar; the menu is eclectic and elegant. The view, well that’s another matter but nothing Darby’s can help with.
Stevie Parle has come back at Portobello docks, where the beautiful Dock Kitchen used to be with JOY. I haven’t visited yet but the individual pods look amazing, cosy, perfect for a wintry night and perfect for socially distanced meals. They even have a fire pit! Expect Stevie’s usual delicious fare using sustainable and seasonal ingredients with exotic touches.
Tacos el Pastor
I visited Tacos el Pastor Borough Market branch for the first time a few weeks ago and loved it so much, I went back a week later. Authentic Mexican flavours and ingredients and a large space outdoor under the rail bridge make this a good option for either lunch or dinner.
They now also offer cook at home taco boxes.
Stoney Street 26 Grains
Right next door is Stoney Street by 26 Grains. Open for dining all day from breakfast with outdoor seating and (soon to arrive) heaters, the venue is running an evening residency with chef Tom Cenci at the moment (wed-sat until december). We had dinner last week and it was fantastic so we couldn’t recommend more.
The Green Room
We used to love the Green Room when it was run by the National Theatre as a non profit, sustainable restaurant. The food was consistenly good and rustic, the venue was very dog friendly and right in the centre of the South Bank with a great buzz to it. Sadly it closed down about a year ago.
Yet it was a welcome surprise a couple of weeks ago when I found out it had actually reopened, run by the group behind Lino London. The cuisine has gone up a notch, but the Green Room interior has not changed much. Bright, airy and hopefully also dog friendly indoor, their covered outdoor terrace will be a great option for non household dining for the next few weeks.
The Gentlemen Baristas pop up
I love the coffee at Gentlement Baristas. I visit their Union St and Borough branches regularly and occasionally treat myself to brunch or pastries too. In Union St they have a number of small tables outside on the pavement but it’s currently their Covent Garden pop up that has a huge number of tables outdoor which offer a good option to dine out with friends as long as the weather is clement (as it’s completely exposed even though they have umbrellas). The menu is really fab, and offer burgers and cakes, salads and sandwiches. The kitchen can be slow unfortunately but it’s a temporary operation after all. Coffee is of course, ace.
The Albert Arms
Our local, we’ve been countless times to the Albert Arms. And their back garden, a secluded space with a number of tables, plants and a canopy might just be the perfect solutionto keep meeting friends and have great food. They do weekday menu, brunch on saturdays and a mean roast on sundays (including a vegan option).
We visited Bala Baya in 2017, quite a few times. Then for some odd reason we did not come back until last week, and I have now idea why it took me so long to do that. It’s nearby, it’s dog friendly, the food is great and – relevant right now – it has a nice outdoor space, away from traffic and protected too. Perfect!
The flavours are rich and decadent and middle easter inspired (chef Eran Tibi is from Israel). They do brunch at the weekend and have some fantastic cocktails too.
Francesco Mazzei’s Battersea outpost Fiume is hugely spacious indoor, but also has a very lovely outdoor al fresco area, which is in fact covered by canopy so good even if it rains. The area is pedestrianised and right by the river; while it’s not the most beautiful riverside dining (look how they have butchered the iconic Battersea Power Station!) it is a very pleasant setting with very good italian food and friendly service.
The river boat stop is right by the venue too which makes for a fun way to get home for us in Waterloo.
The Good Egg
Best babka in town? Likely. The Good Egg is an independent all-day restaurant serving up dishes inspired by the flavours of the Middle East, with nods to the cuisine of Tel Aviv’s street food stalls and the fare sold in the classic Jewish delis, grand old cafés, appetizing stores as well as the
bagel bakeries of New York + Montreal.
The central London branch in Kingly Court by Carnaby Street has tables outdoor in the main court, so this place is perfect if you venture to the West End for a bit of socially distanced shopping.
These is a small, local list. There are so many establishments that have outdoor areas, socially distanced dining and food delivery boxes. Please support the industry if you can. More than ever, the places we love need us!